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Man accused of Bush plot on trial in Georgia

The trial of a man charged with trying to blow up President Bush in the ex-Soviet state of Georgia started on Monday.
/ Source: Reuters

The trial of a man charged with trying to blow up President Bush in the ex-Soviet state of Georgia started on Monday.

Vladimir Arutunyan, a Tbilisi resident, is accused of throwing a grenade at Bush while the president was addressing a crowd gathered in the main square of the Georgian capital.

U.S. officials said at the time the grenade only failed to explode because of a malfunction and landed within 50 meters of Bush as he spoke to tens of thousands of people.

Arutunyan, who has confessed to the crime but later retracted his confession, looked pale as he sat in the defendant’s cage in the court-room. He seemed to have lost weight since his arrest in July.

Arutunyan is charged with plotting a terrorist attack, illegal purchase and storing of arms, and attempted murder. He is facing life imprisonment.

The security scare marred Bush’s trip to Georgia which was intended to show U.S. support for its West-leaning government that came to power after a democratic revolution 20 months ago.

Officials said the grenade could have caused major injuries in the close-packed crowd, the largest gathering of people on the square since the “Rose Revolution” led by now-President Mikhail Saakashvili in 2003.